Any time you visit a new city, you really should check out its Chinatown. It lends a distinct Asian flavour to the city’s vibe and offers a range of different experiences that you probably won’t find elsewhere.
Perth’s ‘official’ Chinatown is in Roe Street in Northbridge, an inner-city suburb but a short walk away, in William Street, you’ll also find a lot of Asian businesses. So what shops, restaurants and festivals does Perth’s Chinatown precinct have to offer? Let’s take a look.
It’s all about the food in Perth’s Chinatown. You know when you get in those moods to cook something Asian that you’ve been craving but you go to the supermarket and they don’t have what you need? That’s when you have to go to Chinatown.
You’ll find not just the ingredients but also the utensils and pots to cook them in, and if you have questions, there’ll always be someone on hand to help.
- Lucky Import & Export – Local Asians shop for their groceries and cookware here and Aussies attempting recipes will head in to seek out unfamiliar ingredients too. It’s like a wonderland of kitchen goodies and gadgets and you can also buy medicinal items. How about a Chinese herbal cough syrup? Or, if you’re in the market for a new tea set, big knife or steamboat, this Lucky Import & Export is your destination.
- Tran’s Emporium – Don’t expect to make a quick dash into Tran’s. Once you’re in there, you’re bound to be intrigued by the fascinating array of products on the shelves. Even grabbing a refreshing drink is an experience. There are all kinds of grab-n-go possibilities you won’t have seen before, like juices, fizzy drinks and cans of iced coffee. It’s a terrific place for ingredients including obscure ones and it’s fun to wander around and explore.
- VHT Perth – Another Asian grocer, VHT Perth offers all the requirements for Chinese, Japanese and Korean dishes including fresh produce you don’t find in regular supermarkets. Hairy gourd, yam and bitter melon are in stock when seasonal alongside herbs and fruits. Rummage through the freezer for dim sims and dumplings that you can cook at home. They also stock the MSG-free Konig brand of Chinese products including abalone sauce, bean curd and more.
- Corica Pastries – Not so Asian but every bit as delicious, the cakes, strudels and pastries at Corica will blow your mind. It’s a European continental patisserie and everything is so fresh, so colourful and so tantalising, you shouldn’t go if you’re on a diet! Order lavish birthday cakes, crispy fruit strudels, croquembouche, Italian cannolis and exquisite French pastries.
Chances are, you’ll go in to buy ingredients and you’ll be so tempted by the restaurants and eateries, you’ll forget you had plans to cook! That’s ok, take a look around and see what grabs you.
- Uncle Billy’s Chinese Restaurant – Uncle Billy’s is open until late at night to satisfy your dim sum cravings, 7 nights a week. The dishes are huge so consider sharing.
- Oriental Mandarin Chinese Restaurant – Specialising in Cantonese food, Oriental Mandarin feels like home to visiting Hong Kong natives. Its traditional menu features claypot rice, Peking spareribs, chilli pepper squid, kang pao chicken and crispy skin chicken. The prices are reasonable and the meals arrive quickly.
- Canton Bay Northbridge – Looking for yum cha? Get into Canton Bay where the dumplings are tender and flavoursome and the trolleys don’t stop rolling around. You can’t book ahead so be prepared to queue for up to half an hour. Even so, the wait is worth it because the food is so good. It’s also open at night and there’s a minimum spend per person but with low prices and a vast menu, you can just get stuck in and worry about the exercise later.
- Chicho Gelato – Chicho’s marble bench top and shimmering silver cloches are impressive enough, until you lay your eyes on the chocolate fountain. It’s literally a tap from which flows molten milk chocolate! At any time, there are as many as 20 gelato and sorbet flavours to choose from, and some flavours are created in collaboration with chefs. What about smoked honey, rosemary and walnut gelato? Or squid ink, seaweed and yuzu scales gelato? Ok, tone it down a notch and go for cherry gelato with coconut marshmallow and dark chocolate. Yes, you can still get a chocolate or vanilla scoop and you can also select from incredible desserts.
You know you’re in Chinatown when the Chinese New Year festival is in full swing. Depending on the year, it’s January or February but every year, it’s an exciting time with lots to see, eat, hear and do. The martial arts demonstrations are particularly thrilling and the multicultural performances help to keep traditions alive and well. Take your pick of tasty dishes from street food purveyors and watch the lion and dragon dancing. There are games and rides and of course, a magical display of fireworks to ring in the New Year.
Explore Chinatown with a guided tour. The Taste of Asia Adventure is a fabulous way to check out the food on offer. Tastings are included and you’ll drop in to some venues you may not otherwise have known about. The tours are run from 6pm to 9.30pm on Thursdays.
You can get around Chinatown and greater Northbridge on a Peddle Perth pedal taxi! They do a fun tour that shows you around and points out street art, landmarks, restaurants and bars. The two-hour tours give you fantastic insight into the local area, you’ll have pizza and taste some gin, whiskey or tequila from the small bars.
For breakfast, brunch, yum cha, lunch and even dinner, Chinatown in Perth is a great place to go. As the hours grow later, however, the area becomes a little seedier and it’s wise to be vigilant. Public transport is easy via bus or train and if you download the Moovit app, you’ll be able to check timetables and find the route you need to take.
When in Perth, you’ll obviously want to check out the beaches and the CBD. But it’s definitely worth a trip to Northbridge to experience Chinatown.